REVIEW: "Pattern Recognition", William Gibson

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Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Hannah

Jul 24, 2006, 7:45:43 PM7/24/06

"Pattern Recognition", William Gibson, 2003, 0-399-14986-4,
%A William Gibson
%C 10 Alcorn Ave, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 3B2
%D 2003
%G 0-399-14986-4
%I Putnam/Penguin/Signet/Roc
%O U$25.95/C$39.00 416-925-2249 Fax: 416-925-0068
%O Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 3 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 356 p.
%T "Pattern Recognition"

This novel takes place in the corporate present, rather than the
dystopian cyberpunk future of Gibson's early works (although he was
bringing us closer even with "Virtual Light", cf. BKVRTLIT.RVW).
Gibson's "edge" is possibly smoothing, although his writing skill and
the humanity that have always marked his work are intact. Central
elements in this work are the marketing and building of "brand." The
internationalization of brands, the implications for individualization
in the face of that pressure, and our discomfort when presented with
different brands are all examined in interesting ways in the character
of a woman who researches and measures the potential popularity of
trademark material, but who is also allergic to certain brands.
(There are some really interesting points about social engineering, of
various types.)

In terms of this series, Gibson has never made real technology central
to his books, and this one is no exception. However, he does involve
steganography, digital watermarking, and the tracing of electronic
messages and files in the plot. While I enjoyed the book (a lot), I
found it strangely weak in regard to the actual use of technology in
the plot. Gibson has not made any secret of the fact that he doesn't
have a technical background, but there are numerous technologies that
could have been used and explored in regard to the plot as it exists,
so it seems oddly unfinished. Still, while Gibson hasn't devoted a
lot of detail to the technologies involved, neither has he made any of
the technical howlers that are so annoying in other, similar, works.

So, it only barely makes it into the series, but I recommend it as a
good read, and some great insight into the human condition.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006 BKPATREC.RVW 20060713

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